Get maximum value from attending an industry conference

BIBA, Airmic, Broker Expo, insurer roadshows – which, if any, industry conferences are you going to this year? Most of us who choose to attend do so with similar goals: to network, to broaden our knowledge of the job and to discuss, learn and share interesting new developments.

But for many, conferences can also be a bit overwhelming, with an expectation to make the best use of our time to justify being away from the office and often with a degree of awkwardness when meeting new people. And with packed agendas, it can sometimes be hard to work out what to do when you’re there and where to focus your time.

Here’s some guidance that could prove valuable:

  1. How do I figure out which presentation sessions to attend?
  2. How do I choose which workshops to attend?
  3. What’s a good way to ensure that I get to meet the people on my priority list?
  4. Are there any good tips on ‘how to work the room’ without the awkwardness?
  5. How can I avoid spending all my time with colleagues, or with the other people I already know?

A great place to start is to do your homework beforehand. Review the conference agenda and formulate a priority list of the sessions and workshops on offer that fulfil your objectives for attending. Is there the opportunity to introduce yourself to a particular speaker or speakers of interest before the conference and meet with them after their presentation? LinkedIn could be a great way to reach out.

Today, probably even more than ever before, your network is a key form of social capital for achieving professional and business goals and conferences can be a key part of that.

Networking doesn’t have to be difficult and the more you do it, the easier it seems to get. So consider trying out some of the ideas given in the guidance above and maybe you’ll enjoy enhancing your networking skills at the next conference you attend.

And don’t forget, if you see an Aviva stand at any conferences you’re attending, then don’t forget to drop by and say ‘hi’!

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